Soccer

Former Brazil coach explains what makes Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino so special

Former Brazil coach Sylvinho was sent on a mission to watch Roberto Firmino back in 2016 and immediately fell in love with the Liverpool star.

The 28-year-old joined the Reds in 2015 after moving from Hoffenheim and has gone on to become of the world's best No 9s.

Competition on the international stage is fierce with the likes of Neymar and Gabriel Jesus also commanding starting berths.

But Sylvinho, who played for Arsenal and Manchester City during his career, was unbelievably impressed by Firmino having been sent on a mission by Brazil boss Tite.

He said: "When I started working with the national team in 2016, the manager told me: 'there's a Burnley v Liverpool that it would be good if you could go to'. It wasn't easy to get to Burnley from Milan, but it was worth it – he was incredible.

"The ball's on the other side of the pitch and you see the way he moves, the way he's looking to get away from defenders, the generosity with which he connects with team-mates.

"I left there in love with him. I went to Rio to do the report, and Tite said to me: 'you're in love, I can see it'.

Firmino has 44 caps and has scored 13 times during an international career that has seen him win last summer's Copa America.

Sylvinho, who waxed lyrical about his compatriot, spent time as Tite's No 2 and has ambitions to one day lead the Brazilian national team.

He has dived into management having previously taken charge of Lyon before being shown the door after less than six months.

The 46-year-old played under Pep Guardiola in the latter part of his career and has always been impressed with the methods and tactics he chose to employ.

"It's not just the possession of the ball," he said.

"At Barcelona he gave us an aggressiveness; the hunger to say "f***, that ball is mine, I'm going to win it!" It's the work ethic and the passion he inspires.

"You can pin a methodology up on the dressing room wall but how to get players to put it into action? The answer is work, lots of work."

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